Gaming for a Cause

Hey everybody,

I attended another weekend gaming event on Saturday! This one, though, had a greater cause attached to it. This weekend, Extra Life ran a 24-hour gaming event to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network, a charity that supports children’s hospitals, including Toronto’s SickKids. I was considering running an event and playing for 24 hours straight to raise money for this, but it didn’t come together. Then I found out from my friend Joe Slack of Crazy Like a Box games that someone else had set up an event, and it turns out it was only minutes from my house! (There will be more about Joe later.)

This event was being hosted by Jeff Lai of Keji Toys. At first I didn’t recognize the name, but realized that I had met him at ProtoTO. Jeff has produced some games, including Draconis Invasion, and Maki Stack, which was just reviewed by Today’s Parent!

This is Jeff with some of the games he brought for people to play at the event.

I arrived at around 1pm, and upon entering the venue (they were at the Hosanna Evangelical Free Church, in Mississauga), saw Jeff playing a game with Joe. You might remember Joe from the ProtoTO blog, since I was at his session playing his games there. If you missed it, read about it here.  Joe always seems to have many games in production and at the playtesting phase, and they were playing one of them, “Isle of Rock and Roll”.

Isle of Rock and Roll smaller
You play a rock band and try to fill seats in the stadium, gain popularity and record albums.


I showed up just in time to see the last round, so I don’t have a lot of detail about this one. Anyway, after they finished, Joe, his wife Lisa, and I went for lunch. When we got back, we played more games! We played Dixit, which Bill introduced me to just a couple of months ago. The playing pieces were little wooden rabbits, so I chose the white rabbit  and named him “Jefferson“. Dixit is interesting because you have to get only some of the players to identify which card is yours from the group. As the active player you don’t get points if all of the players guess your card from the group, but nor do they get points if no one guesses theirs. You need to give a clue that only some of the players might get. In one of my favourite rounds, I played a card with a picture of a rabbit (a white rabbit! Is there a theme here?) with a gun and my clue was “Death awaits you all!” and then I put my fingers up by my mouth to mimic teeth. I thought Joe would get this one, but didn’t, because, as he said after, he thought “it was too obvious”. Luckily, Lisa got the reference, and I got my points, because she was the only one clever enough to guess my card.



After Dixit, we played some of Joe’s games! We set up Mayan Ruins, which he is working on with Sylvain Plante, but before we started, be played a quick game of “Everything Must Go!”, which I suddenly remembered was the other game of his that I played at ProtoTO, but had forgotten so I didn’t write about it. So here it is! In this game, each player is a billionaire who needs to get rid of a bunch of assets, probably for tax reasons. Each turn, each player takes 3 cards from the draw deck. They must keep one for themselves, give one to the player on their left, and one to the player on their right. If someone gives you the same card you kept, you discard the one you kept. There are only 5 different items, and scoring is based on how many of each you have at the end of the game. Some items you want more of, some you want fewer of, and some you want an odd number of to maximize your score. This is a super quick game to play, yet with a manageable level of strategy. Since last time I played it, Joe made a couple of changes which definitely improved the game.

Everything must go
The little people aren’t part of the game; they are for the next one we’ll be looking at. And yes, we had a bag of little chocolate bars at the table.

Then we went back to Mayan Ruins! Even at the prototype stage, this game looks good! There’s a whole temple with sliding slabs of stone, each with a symbol on them approaching the inner temple, which has rotating rings of stone path leading to the “amulet”, represented by a silver skull, in the centre.

On a player’s turn, they roll 3 dice which have symbols on them matching those on the tiles of the temple floor. Players may only walk on the tiles that match the symbols rolled. But before they move, the player can shift the floor slabs left or right to attempt to line up symbols to make a path for them to move closer to the amulet end of the temple.

Mayan Ruins 2 smaller
We are just about ready to begin our adventure!

Of course, as in any cinematic adventure, once someone grabbed the amulet (It was me. I got there first.), the temple starts to collapse! I guess my bag of sand wasn’t the right weight. The way back is more difficult, as now there are lava sections to deal with!

Mayan Ruins smaller
The floor is lava! Well, some sections are… 

In this picture, Lisa’s character has the amulet, because she stole it from me, but I got it back and eventually won the game. This one is still in progress and needs some refining, but I enjoyed it, and I like the puzzle and pattern aspect of the movement. And of course, the theme is fun, and inspires Indiana Jones references while you play!

I forgot to take pictures of the final game we played, but it was fun too! It was called Nighthawkers, and involved placing your workers to gather the equipment you needed to go and explore ruins and and barrens to find elements needed discover ancient artifacts and collect the bounty on them.

At the end of the evening, there was the raffle! Check out the prize table, just about everything on which was provided by Jeff:

Prize Table smaller


Raffle tickets were handed out one to each person present every hour, so the longer someone stayed, the more tickets they had! Each person was only allowed to win one prize though, so that more people went home with something. At one point, I did a quick count, and there were 30 people there, playing games!

And check it out! I won one, so I chose Draconis Invasion. It’s a deck-building game about defeating enemies to defend a kingdom (I think, based on what it says on the box). I haven’t opened it yet, but the art on the box is really cool!

Draconis smaller

And on top of all the fun, Jeff provided pizza for everyone! I had a great time, and would like to thank everyone who came out, and everyone who sat and played a game. Thank you to Jeff, Joe, Lisa, Keith, Jack, and Sinon (I have no idea if I spelled that correctly). Also, thank you to everyone who donated to help out SickKids. At the last count that I saw, Jeff’s event alone raised over $1300. And people were doing these events all across North America!

And thank you to you, reader, for following our journey and adventures.

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